Hello, my name is Charles Nichols. That is me in the attached picture above and short video segment below arguing my California Open Carry case before a three-judge panel of the 9th circuit court of appeals. I am not now and never have I been an attorney. Yes, it is extremely rare for someone who is not and who has never been an attorney or third-year law student to be allowed to participate in oral argument in this circuit. To the best of my knowledge, in the past twenty years there have been just three cases argued by non-attorneys representing themselves, the most recent appeal having been argued in July of 2018. My appeal is one of the three, it was argued on February 15, 2018. The other thing these three appeals has in common is that either Circuit Judge Berzon or Circuit Judge Bybee, or both, was on the three-judge panel.
My lawsuit was filed in a Federal district court in November of 2011. The district court judge who was assigned to the case and the magistrate judge who assigned herself to the case were, to say the least, hostile to the Second Amendment. When someone who is not an attorney files a lawsuit in which he represents himself, the knee-jerk response of the judges assigned to these cases is to encourage them to drop their lawsuit by a variety of methods. In my case, the district court judges dragged my case through the rabbit hole for two and a half years. After amending my lawsuit, twice in those two and a half years, I “stood on/by my Complaint” thereby forcing the district court to issue a final judgment.
The district court judge, Samuel James Otero, compared firearms to crystal meth and people who carried firearms to drug dealers and issued a final judgment against me on, appropriately enough coming from a leftist judge, May Day (2014).
I filed a timely appeal.
A decision in my appeal was delayed because of the appeal of the National Rifle Association’s concealed carry appeal in Peruta v. San Diego. A decision in my appeal is further delayed because the Young v. Hawaii appeal was argued and submitted for a decision by a three-judge panel three days before my appeal. Under 9th circuit rules, the decision in that appeal is binding on my appeal. On July 24, 2018, a decision was published in the Young v. Hawaii appeal. Mr. Young won. The defendants have filed a petition for the appeal to be reheard before an eleven-judge en banc panel of the 9th circuit court of appeals. My appeal now awaits a final decision on the en banc petition.
September 23, 2010, – Thirty years after first studying law in college, I began my studies anew in contemplation of challenging California’s 1967 Loaded Open Carry ban. I did not plan on representing myself, or even being a plaintiff in my lawsuit, that’s just the way things turned out.
May 26, 2011, – I decided to start raising funds to support a lawsuit challenging California’s 1967 Loaded Open Carry ban.
November 30, 2011, – Unable to find a lawyer or anyone to join me as a plaintiff in the lawsuit, I filed my pro se lawsuit in Federal court.
May 1, 2014, – Federal District Court Judge Samuel James Otero held that firearms are no different than crystal meth. My case was dismissed with prejudice. But not before I amended my lawsuit to challenge the two Unloaded Open Carry bans and California’s ban on issuing handgun Open Carry licenses to residents of counties with 200,000 or more people and limiting the licenses to the county of issuance.
May 27, 2014, – Notice of Appeal filed.
February 15, 2018, – Oral argument before a three-judge panel of the 9th circuit court of appeals took place.
What Does my California Open Carry Lawsuit Seek to Achieve?
The simple answer is my lawsuit seeks to strike down California’s bans on the carrying of firearms openly for the purpose of self-defense:
- In the curtilage of our homes (which for nearly everyone in the state means all of our residential property).
- In and/on our motor vehicles including in and/or on any attached camper or trailer regardless of whether or not they are used as a residence.
- In non-sensitive public places.
To this end my lawsuit seeks, at a minimum, a permanent injunction against California’s 1967 ban on openly carrying loaded firearms in public as well as a permanent injunction against California’s two, recently enacted, bans on openly carrying unloaded firearms in public, and everywhere those bans apply.
My lawsuit also contains an alternate challenge to the population and other restrictions on the issuance of licenses to openly carry loaded handguns. A challenge conditional on IF the court upholds California’s two CCW laws. My position is that the Open Carry right cannot be conditioned on a government issued permission slip. Given that the en banc Peruta decision held that there is no right to carry a concealed handgun in public, under the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals current case law, both CCW laws should be struck down if the court cannot find a right to bear arms in the Second Amendment.
Should the court of appeals contrive some reason not to strike them down then my lawsuit demands that unrestricted handgun Open Carry licenses be granted with no qualification restrictions other than the person being issued the license is not prohibited under Federal or California law from possessing a firearm. A handgun Open Carry license allows one to openly carry a loaded and exposed handgun within 1,000 feet of K-12 public and private schools but not on the grounds of any school.